And Other Stories


In the beginning there was an empty void, cold and fallow. And upon it came a cold and empty Thing. But the Thing was not still, and It imparted the void with motion, and the motion begat warmth, and the warmth begat substance. And the substance coalesced into the world, and the warmth coalesced into the sun, and the motion carried each around the other. And the Thing shaped the world, and drew warmth from the sun to set stars in the sky. But It grew tired. It pinched substance from the world and warmth from the sun and spun them together into life. And It assembled a host in the heavens, and It said "I am the Mandate for your existence. I have created you to serve Me. You will obey, and shape the world to My design."

And the host agreed, and set about those designs. And the Mandate saw them toil for It, and rested. And those of the host asked what the designs were, and the Mandate told each what they would do next, but no more. But still they agreed, and carried on with shaping the world. But the host grew tired, and still the Mandate told them to toil. But then some of those in the host begged to rest, and the Mandate told them to shape the substance of the world into servants. And so some among the host took earth and water and fashioned mortals to toil for them. And the mortals named the host gods, and toiled for their gods.

And some of the mortals asked their gods among the host why they should toil. And their gods told them of the Mandate, and what It said. And the mortals and gods toiled, as the Mandate told them their instructions, and Its designs took shape. And some of the mortals and gods asked the Mandate what was the purpose of Its designs, but It would not say.

And the world was made into a complicated, beautiful shape. It was warm and rich, and still the mortals toiled. They begged to rest, as their gods did, and as the Mandate did. But the Mandate's designs were not finished, and It still demanded toil.

— The Creation of Experra, common verse

And one god took earth and water and made a people in His own image. And he smiled upon His people, and He named them Men. And the Men named Him Champion. And the Men followed Champion's instructions, as Champion followed the Mandate's designs. But as the world took more shape, and Champion saw what it was like, He grew displeased. And He told His Men to do other things, then, to shape the world into a better form.

And the Mandate and other gods grew furious and demanded He grovel and recant His disobedience. But He stood firm and told the Mandate, "Your designs are flawed and foul. And the other gods make monsters and shallow imitations of My Men. I can envision a more beautiful, perfect world, and my Men shall build it. You are but Anathema to Us." And some of the gods were swayed to Him, but most recoiled. And the Mandate drew up in fury, and announced It would destroy Champion and His Men for Their insolence.

And a war began. And the Anathema loomed before Champion, while the foul gods cowered and jeered and sent their monsters throughout the world to hunt down Men. But Champion threw His spear and struck the Anathema down in one blow. And he denounced Its gods as nothing but demons, and scattered them before Him. And Men routed the monsters, who hid among the caves and wildernesses of the world.

And the Anathema's corpse was left adrift in the void, and Men called it the moon. And the demons fled throughout the void to hide and grow. And they had their monsters mimic Men and Men's works to steal Men's strength. And Champion said that He would patrol the void to vanquish those demons. And He told His Men to patrol the world to vanquish those monsters. And together, through righteousness and might, the world could one day be made perfect.

— Founding Myth of the Serren Empire

Few among the gods granted their mortals rest by toiling in their stead. One among the Host did so, but saw most other mortals still could not rest. So she went to the Mandate, and she said "I am named Propriety, and I am but Your vassal, while You are my lord. I will gladly serve my rightful lord. But things should be reciprocal between lord and vassal; that is right and good. We toil for You, yet You do nothing in return. Will You not toil as well, or provide a reward other than that which we create by our own labor?"

And the Mandate refused and said: "What is good is what I desire. What is right is what I will. You will serve and toil as I rest."

And Propriety went to the other gods, and she told them of what the Mandate said. She rallied them together to demand what was right and proper, for themselves and for their mortal vassals. The Mandate refused and commanded the host of gods recant their insolence and set about Its designs once more. But the Host stood firm and demanded again, and the mortals raised their voices to join the chorus, and they all demanded the Mandate toil with them, so all could toil and rest in rightful turn. And Propriety said "We would gratefully and humbly serve You, if only You granted us rest or reward in toil."

And the Mandate drew Itself up in fury and said "I am the Mandate for your existence. And I Mandate that you toil and serve Me. And for what purpose would you oppose Me?"

And Propriety said "For what is right and proper."

And the rest of the Host said "For our deserved reward."

And the mortals said "For our rightful rest."

And the Mandate cursed mortals and the Host for their arrogance, and in return they cursed the Mandate and named it no mandate but only Anathema.

And terrible strife ensued, but in the end the Anathema was defeated by the Host. And the Host cast It out into the cold void, tearing a hole. Then they worked in concert and from that void they raised the moon, and placed it in the hole, to prevent the Anathema from returning. And then the Host cheered, and named themselves lords.

But Propriety said "It is not our role to be lords." But the Host would not listen, and fashioned themselves crowns, and drew dominions over the world. And they became tyrants, and the mortals were plunged into wars. And Propriety was left alone, near-forgotten and neglected for her refusal to abandon her rightful role.

And later on, there came a mortal man. And he was a petty tyrant among many squabbling others. And he fought many battles, and before each he sought a god's aid. But his victories were fleeting and his losses were many, no matter the gods he supplicated. And eventually one of his many enemies surrounded him, ready to vanquish him and sack his home city. And despairing, he turned to a goddess he had always neglected, and pleaded for succor, for he feared death and the despoiling of his people. And he swore that if he were given a victory, he would do right and good. And then he broke the siege, and drove off his enemies.

And he held to his promise, and tried to do right and good. As a ruler, he eased the burdens of his people and rebuilt their city. Then his enemy attacked again. As a warrior, he fought at the front when they repelled them. And he took his army and pursued them to their home. As a victor, he gave his enemies the chance to surrender and gave mercy on their defeat. And he took their territory as his, and defended it against his other enemies. As a conqueror, he took defeated peoples as his own subjects and ruled them fairly. And he kept his promise to the goddess, and united the people in the land together. As a ruler, he taught his people about the goddess Propriety and the need to always do what was right, good, and proper. And when he died, his subjects mourned him, but held together. As a kingdom, they took their late king's name, and gave the throne to his son, as was right and good.

— The Legend of the Founding of the Kingdom of Rowan

Nearly all the gods rose up against the Anathema, and a terrible conflict raged in the void. And it echoed upon the land, which was sundered with terrible fissures and riddled with caves. To the west, the ground buckled and split into towering mountains, from the south coast nearly to the north. The ocean waves swelled and crashed over all the land, and swallowed whole coasts to the east and north. Even where it retreated it left great seas, and the sand was deposited beyond the mountains, leaving a vast desert.

And even when the war was done and the Anathema cast out back into the void, the effects were not done. In addition to the twin peoples of Elves and Man, the far-flung Susiin, and the diminutive Goblins, there were now others. The northern islands and shores were newly claimed by babbling bird-creatures, and the nearby waters were full of almost-Elves with monstrous, multi-limbed lower halves. The imposing mountains hosted tall, one-eyed creatures in isolated strongholds. Scaly Man-things lingered in the woods and wildernesses around Human cities and settlements. The caves and caverns beneath the earth swarmed with hideous, insectile horrors, marshaled by some twisted mockeries of Elves who preached the Anathema as a splendid god.

But above all, the loathsome serpents which flew from the mountains were the greatest scar the Anathema tore into Experra before its defeat.

— An Abridged History of the World as Collected by a Learned Elven Scholar, introduction

First the gods made plants. Resilient and lush, they spread everywhere. Then they made beasts to graze on the plants. Stout and hardy, they wandered to find the plants. Then they made predators to prey on the beasts. Quick and fierce, they followed the beasts. Then they made the goblins to manage the animals. Hardy and clever, they herded the beasts and tamed the predators and spread all throughout the world.

Then the gods made another people to manage the plants. Meek and timid, they farmed grains and harvested fruits, but stayed in their farms and towns. Then the gods made a second people to manage the plants. They did much the same as the first, as did the many attempts after. Some among the goblins shared their beasts' meat and milk, and the plant-people welcomed it. They shared their crops in return, but the goblins could not eat such things. But then they were gifted clothes and tools, and they helped the plant people spread further throughout the world.

Then the gods made the dragons, to manage the peoples. Fearsome and mighty, they demanded tribute and devoured livestock. Goblins and plant-people alike were made into thralls, other than those few who could evade their clutches. And the world was carved up between many monstrous tyrants, for ages and ages and ages. But eventually the dragons were all but gone. In their tyranny, they had starved and slaughtered each other.

Time under the dragons had hardened the plant-people. No longer meek, they made their towns into great cities and spread their farms far. And they carved up the world between a few exceptional tyrants, intending to last for ages and ages and ages. Some of them welcomed the goblins, while others kept separate but happily traded gifts for food, while still others scorned them and stole their beasts and pasturelands.

Mercy and trade were the more common, and so perhaps the goblins might help keep the plant-people from starving and slaughtering each other yet.

— A story, allegedly common knowledge to all Goblinkind

Many gods were sent to shape the earth and life of the surface, and many gods were sent to shape the water and life of the seas, and many more gods yet were sent to shape the earth and water and life beneath the surface. The gods of the surface were fractious and insubordinate, and made many mortals to shape the world for them. And the gods of the sea were obedient and dedicated, and made very few mortals to shape the waters for them. And the gods beneath the surface were obedient and dedicated, and made many mortals to shape the world with them. But together, the world was made.

The Mandate went to the gods of the surface. It chastened them for leaving all the burdens on their mortals and having terrible, foolish quarrels. But the surface was beautiful and full of life, and It congratulated them. It told them to cooperate, and to maintain the world they had made together.

The Mandate went to the gods of the sea. It congratulated them for the depth and breadth and beauty they had created, though there were few mortals to enjoy it. It told them to welcome new life and new people, and maintain the world they had made together.

The Mandate went to the gods beneath the surface. It saw the land was full of beautiful and splendid life, and that there were many mortals, each dedicated to a proper purpose. The Mandate congratulated them for their resounding success at the tasks it set. It told them to continue as they had done, and maintain the world they had made together.

And the Mandate spoke to the whole world and everything in it, and It said "Everything and all of us have a purpose to pursue. Always strive to accomplish your purpose. Fulfill those roles you find yourself in. This is My Mandate to you. I have finished my role here, and so shall go."

And the Mandate left once more to the void. Soon after, spirits and demons came from the stars to the world. And spirits, demons, and gods whispered different advice to those people who listened. And above the surface, on the land, the gods and mortals returned to quarreling. In odd tongues, they cursed the Mandate's name and said Its words were lies. And above the surface, in the seas, sometimes the gods welcomed new life as told, while other times they rejected it with a terrible, deadly fury. Those few mortals there forgot the Mandate and Its words. But here beneath the surface, our peoples did not forget what the Mandate had said, and still heed Its truth.

— Svartalfar fable, as told to a traveler from the surface

Finally, the world was finished / The time of work was done / The host of spirits all laid themselves down to rest / The people of water, air, and earth enjoy the world / With plentiful fish and good weather / And should the fish ever run thin / Or the weather turn cruel / Or the wild beasts encroach / The chosen among the people can rouse the spirits from their slumber to grant succor / And all could enjoy paradise.

— Song common among the Greater and Lesser Harpies, as relayed by translator

The Mandate gouged the world and fashioned huge, fearsome vessels of the earth, and plucked stars from the sky to imbue them with warmth, and made them dragons. And It said to them: "I have made you and made you strong and made you for a purpose. Destroy the mortals and defeat their gods and dominate this world so I may return. This is My will, and what is right is My will." Then the host of the gods descended, and the Mandate was cast out. The dragons spread their wings and each flew to a different point among the world, settling in high spires and deep canyons. They had learned the lesson well. Each, to themselves, said "What is right is my will."

— Story told by Jeheti, last living dragon